Sugar leaders, mayor welcome appointment of DA secretary

Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. takes his oath as the new secretary of the Department of Agriculture before President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Friday, November 3.*

Sugar industry leaders and Bacolod Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez welcomed President Ferdinand Marcos’ appointment of industrialist and fishing magnate Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. as the new secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA) on Friday, November 3.

Administrator Pablo Azcona of the Sugar Regulatory Administration said “Rest assured that SRA will be supportive of the DA’s programs as it has in the past, and we are looking forward to strengthen this partnership with the DA”.

Azcona also thanked former DA chief, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., for the support and assistance he has extended to the SRA and the entire sugar industry.

Manuel Lamata, United Sugar Producers Federation of the Philippines president, said “We are looking forward to work with him (Laurel) and present to him the state of the sugar industry and how the department can extend its assistance and resources to our industry, particularly now that we are in the thick of our milling season”.

UNIFED will work hand in hand with Laurel for the support his programs for the betterment of the sugar industry, Lamata said.

The Sugar Council, composed of three federations with thousands of sugar farmers as members, also sent a letter to Laurel congratulating him on his appointment.

“We commit to you our full cooperation as you begin the challenging but rewarding job of managing the country’s agricultural assets in general, and the sugar industry in particular”, the council said it its letter.

It was signed by Aurelio Gerardo J. Valderrama Jr. – Confederation of Sugar Producers Associations Inc. president, Erique D. Rojas – National Federation of Sugarcane Planters Inc. president, and Danilo A. Abelita – Panay Federation of Sugarcane Farmers Inc. president.

Bacolod Mayor Alfredo Benitez said Laurel is a good choice for the top DA post because he understands agriculture and will be bringing his expertise from the private sector to the public sector.

“I’m biased for private sector people who did well in their field and go to government because you know that they are proven and tested. When they join government you can rest assured that they will be able to perform,” Benitez said.

Marcos, in his speech, said the appointment of Laurel to the DA only shows the importance of the partnerships between the private and the public sectors as he banked on the new secretary’s credentials to lead the DA.

Laurel knows how the agricultural system works in the Philippines, the president said.

Marcos directed Laurel to ensure prices of all the agricultural commodities are regulated.

The new DA secretary was president of Frabelle Fishing Corp. from 1985 to Oct. 31, 2023 and is a member of the agriculture sector group of the Private Sector Advisory Council (FSAC) of the president.

Laurel also held positions in various companies including as president of the Frabelle Shipyard Corp., chairman of the Westpac Meat Processing Corp., director of Frabelle Properties Corp. and president of the Markham Resources Corp.

He was also the former chairman of the Diamond Export Corp., president of the Bacoor Seafront Development Corp. and chairman/president of Bukidnon Hydro Energy Corp. as well the commander of the Naval Affiliated Reserve Force-National Capital Region.

Laurel is also the chairman of the World Tuna Purse Seine Organization.

Laurel said he will present to the public his programs for the DA in coordination with President Marcos.

His office will remain open to all farmers and fishermen, Laurel said.*

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